Friday, January 25, 2013


Send a Protest Letter Today!

Brothers and Sisters, The New York City District Council of Carpenters has partnered with Corporate Campaign, Inc. to develop the Campaign to Stop Construction Sweatshops

Headquartered in New York City, Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF) is a leading provider of retirement plans for people who work in the academic, medical, cultural, governmental and research fields. It is also a provider of life insurance.

The company touts its commitment to social responsibility and "investing for the greater good." But is pouring billions into construction sweatshops, tobacco companies and Killer Coke socially responsible and promoting the greater good?

TIAA-CREF is financing and is an equity partner in a construction sweatshop in Long Island City. 

The company is partnering with developer O'Connor Capital Partners and its general contractor McGowan Builders. McGowan subcontracts to firms that do not provide their workers with retirement plans or health care benefits and pay far less than the area standard wage. Responsible contractors cannot compete with such exploitative conditions which lead to a race to the bottom.

Help us make TIAA-CREF live up to its claim of being "socially responsible" and "investing for the greater good." It should start by ending its investments in construction sweatshops!

WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW! We set up a simple form for you to send a protest letter to President & CEO of TIAA-CREF Roger Ferguson.

Help us with this innovative and ambitious effort to secure justice for carpenters and other construction workers in New York City & Vicinity, our nation's construction capital!




    Ray Rogers (born March 31, 1944) is an American labor rights activist, labor union strategist and organizer as well as a major figure of prominence in the American labor and human rights movement. Rogers is credited with pioneering the strategy of the corporate campaign, a tactic that has been used with success by labor unions, human rights advocates and environmental activist groups in their battles against corporations in the United States and all over the world.


    Rogers's battles on behalf of labor union members against companies such as J.P. Stevens & Co., Geo. A. Hormel & Co., International Paper Co., American Airlines, Inc., Campbell Soup Co. and Coca-Cola Co. led BusinessWeek magazine to describe him as a "legendary union activist".[2]


    Enter Ray Rogers

    The immediate response to the wage reduction was a call for strike action -- against the contract, the company and anybody else who was trying to gut their wages. Knowing that help from the UFCW would be non-existent, Guyette called a New York public relations firm to ask for help in getting the local's message across. They put him in touch with Ray Rogers and Corporate Campaign, Inc.

    Ray Rogers is a man with a mission and that mission is to reshape the labor movement, for a price. Rogers is not a wealthy man but he is a businessman and his business is providing local unions with an alternative to going on strike. He came to Austin and sold Guyette -- and then the membership -- on a campaign to restore to P-9 what Hormel and the UFCW had taken away. "Strikes are obsolete," he told them. "What you have to do is to take your power to the doorsteps of power." Ray Rogers talks fast, in his thick Boston accent, and is prone to a cheerleading style, as in "Give me a 'W', give me an 'I', give me an 'N'; What's that spell? What's that spell?" Rogers told them again and again that they had the power and he would help them use it. P-9 listened, and believed, and did not strike.

    The corporate campaign didn't work because it didn't stop Hormel from continuing to make money from packaging meat. To do that it was necessary to stop production.


    A sit-down strike would have been the most effective way to shut down production and force Hormel to take the strikers' concerns seriously.


    The history of the Hormel struggle demonstrates once again how the present top-down union Internationals are bound to be in conflict with the rank and file who want control over their own movement and militant solidarity against the employers. To develop an effective challenge to the employing class and unionism self-managed by the rank and file, it is going to be necessary to develop new organization.


    A workers movement guided by the principles of rank-and-file democracy, worker solidarity, and militant struggle against the employing class is bound to develop new forms of organization, independent of the rotting corpse of American business unionism. The top-down structure of the AFL-CIO-type unions is an albatross around the neck of the American workforce. What is needed is a new form of organization in which the rank and file directly manage the struggle and the local organizations are linked together in horizontal, worker-to-worker solidarity.

  2. [...]

    Research into Hormel's stock ties and board of directors had turned up First Bank. One of the upper Midwest's financial giants, the St. Paul-based bank looked like the ideal location of the "doorsteps of power." First Bank was descended upon with pickets at branches in three states and protesters at their shareholders meeting. Enormous quantities of literature were produced -- from leaflets to newspapers -- and sent throughout Minnesota and beyond. Teams of volunteers went door to door canvassing in the suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The plan was to get individuals, and unions and other institutions, to withdraw their funds and bombard First Bank with demands that the wage cuts at Hormel be rescinded.

    It didn't work. First Bank blandly denied that it had anything to do with management decisions at Hormel.

    The corporate campaign failed because it was based on flawed assumptions. The assumption is that workers should appeal to "public opinion" rather than to solidarity from other workers. This is done by trying to show how the targeted employer is especially unfair to its workforce.


    Since the AFL-CIO heads see corporate campaigns as a way to avoid strikes, they actually favor them, as the J.P. Stevens campaign demonstrates. What the UFCW International and AFL-CIO tops dislike in this case is not the corporate campaign in itself, but the fact that a gutsy local union is charting its own course independent of the International.


I would ask that if you would like to leave a comment that you think of Local 157 Blogspot as your online meeting hall and that you wouldn’t say anything on this site that you wouldn’t, say at a union meeting. Constructive criticism is welcome, as we all benefit from such advice. Obnoxious comments are not welcome.